Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Scott Lightsey - Chair


This dissertation is a critical analysis of identity in literature within the historical context of the theopolitical climate in England between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. The narratives under consideration are the Lais of Marie de France, The Canterbury Tales, and The Book of Margery Kempe. A focus on the business of theology and the Church’s political influence on identity will highlight these lay writers’ artistic shaping of theopolitical ideas into literature. Conducting a literary analysis on the application of theopolitical ideas by these lay writers encourages movement beyond the traditional exegetical interpretation of their narratives and furthers our determination of lay intellectual attitudes toward theology and its political purposes in the development of identity and society.